Premier League to resume on June 17 with Man City vs Arsenal among the first fixtures and all matches to be shown live
Following Thursday’s meeting regarding ‘Project Restart’, a date has now been agreed for England’s top flight to get back underway
The Premier League season will resume on June 17 with Manchester City’s meeting with Arsenal one of the first matches to be played – and all 92 remaining matches will be broadcast live.
As the Telegraph first reported and Goal later confirmed, Aston Villa’s home clash with Sheffield United is another that will mark the return of the English top flight, with both those matches the two games in hand that were left unplayed prior to the coronavirus pandemic halting football.
A full fixture list will then be played on the weekend of June 19 to 21, with the agreement coming after Premier League clubs met on Thursday to continue discussions over ‘Project Restart’.
A Premier League statement read: “Premier League Shareholders today agreed to a new provisional restart date for the 2019-20 season of Wednesday June 17, provided that all safety requirements are in place.
“Aston Villa v Sheffield United and Manchester City v Arsenal, postponed due to the EFL Cup final, will now take place on June 17, followed by a full match round beginning on Friday 19 June.
“Due to Covid-19, matches will take place behind closed doors.”
They also confirmed all the remaining games of the season will be shown in the UK on the channels currently with rights to broadcast the league – Sky Sports, BT Sport, BBC and Amazon Prime.
This will mean some games are free to air, with the BBC – which usually just broadcasts Premier League highlights – will be showing live games for the first time since the current top-flight was inaugurated in 1992.
The last time the BBC broadcast top division English league games live was in the 1987-88 season – 32 years ago.
The full list of kick-off times were revealed, with weekend games to be played at 10 different time slots from Friday to Monday, as well as Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings – giving fans the prospect of football every night of the week until the end of the season.
Kick-off slots are at 8pm on Friday; 12.30pm, 3pm, 5.30pm and 8pm on Saturdays; noon, 2pm, 4.30pm and 7pm on Sundays; 8pm Mondays, and 6pm and 8pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.
Premier League Chief Executive Richard Masters said all plans and dates are still provisional, as long as they can ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.
He said: “Sadly, matches will have to take place without fans in stadiums, so we are pleased to have come up with a positive solution for supporters to be able to watch all the remaining 92 matches.
“The Premier League and our clubs are proud to have incredibly passionate and loyal supporters. It is important to ensure as many people as possible can watch the matches at home.
“We will continue to work step-by-step and in consultation with all our stakeholders as we move towards resuming the 2019-20 season.”
The Premier League are hoping to have the 2019-20 campaign wrapped up by August 2, with the FA Cup final then scheduled to take place a week later on the weekend of August 8-9.
The decision was made to temporarily suspend the season back on March 13 after both Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta and Chelsea winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had tested positive for Covid-19.
There was initial hope that the Premier League would be able to get back underway in April, although the devastation of the coronavirus pandemic and the uncertainties over the safety and welfare of players, staff and fans led to an indefinite delay.
England’s top-flight league has since been formulating a plan to resume the 2019-20 season – where all but four teams have nine matches left to play – with ‘Project Restart’ seeing various meetings and discussions taking place over how best to safely reintroduce the Premier League.
The most recent developments have seen three rounds of coronavirus testing completed, with the latest results, for tests conducted between May 25 and May 26, seeing four positive Covid-19 cases reported.
Players have also been given the green light to resume contact training as the Premier League gets ready to welcome back football in England, with there still no formal announcement having been made.
Liverpool remain just two wins away from sealing the Premier League title, while should Villa beat Sheffield United in their game in hand, they will move out of the bottom three.
There is also an intriguing battle to finish in the top four, with Leicester City and Chelsea currently occupying third and fourth respectively, ahead of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s Manchester United who are in fifth.
The return of the Bundesliga in Germany has helped pave the way for other top-flight European leagues to follow suit, with La Liga due to resume on June 8.
There has been no announcement of the resumption of the Champions League or Europa League at this stage, although Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has previously suggested his side’s tie with Juventus had been pencilled in for August 7.
While the majority are seemingly in favour of the Premier League returning, there are those that remain uncomfortable with the situation, with the likes of Danny Rose, Sergio Aguero, Antonio Rudiger and Troy Deeney having voiced their concerns over the restart.